The COVID-19 pandemic has opened the doors for countries to invest more in renewable and sustainable options and ditching fossil fuels. Home Owners of Ukraine for Sustainable Energy Efficiency Solutions, also known as HOUSES, a United Nations project, was launched in October 2018 to promote energy efficiency amongst Ukrainian households to lessen their energy expenses and decrease the country's carbon footprint. The technology now is being used to inform 1.8 million citizens on how to fight the COVID-19 virus. Since the launch, that project has supported numerous households to manage their homeowner's association, develop better energy efficiency, and apply subsidies under Ukrainian Energy Efficiency Fund. “Little did we know at the time we set it up that we could use this same network to communicate urgent information about the pending pandemic”, said Dafina Gercheva, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) resident representative in Ukraine since 2019.
Piggybacking on HOUSES’s network of 24 coordinators, 344 local authorities and nearly 4,000 homeowners’ associations, and working with World Health Organization, UNDP provided more than 100,000 posters detailed information about the new coronavirus, how to avoid contracting it and how to protect families.
The homeowners also developed creative ways to sanitize the buildings, footwears, support elderly and sew protection masks, and suits for doctors, medical professionals, and vulnerable communities. One community made 1,300 masks and 76 suites in the space of a month. The HOUSES program, which continues through September 2020, is supported by €4 million in European Union funding. According to WHO, the country has 15,648 confirmed +ve cases and 408 deaths. UNDP said the death-rate is relatively low when compared to larger European nations. The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that in eastern Ukraine - gripped by the conflict between Government forces and mostly pro-Russia separatists since 2014 - there were 142 confirmed cases in Government-controlled areas and 416 in non-Government-controlled areas. The contact line between the two areas has been closed since 21 March as part of a national COVID-19 lockdown, with almost no one – including humanitarian personnel – able to cross over.
“This is having an impact on, for example, vulnerable elderly people living in non-Government-controlled areas who are unable to access services, pensions, and other social benefits in the Government-controlled part,” OCHA said in a briefing note. The humanitarian agencies are operating on both sides of the contact line, helping more than 2 million people with existing stockpiles.
Image courtesy and Source: UN